Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Biblioholic's Sunday

A Biblioholic's Sunday

Biblioholism: n. [BIBLIO + HOLISM] book, of books: the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire and consume books in excess.
After a whole week of running all over town, it feels great to spend my Sunday at home. I didn't even step foot outside my house today, instead I spent my entire day rearranging and rediscovering all the books that I have buried in boxes under my bed. I ended up quite surprised at the amount of books that I have collected over the years. There were books that I had even forgotten were in my possession.

Being an incurable biblioholic, I must admit to buying books not solely for the purpose of reading. You see, the time I have for reading is extremely limited these days, but that doesn't stop me from continuously adding new titles to my collection. There are books that I knew I had no intention of reading from cover to cover when I first purchased them--they were just titles that I thought would be useful for my "research" someday.

There were also books that I had bought because they were collector's items. For example, I have a beautifully bound harcover version of Charles Dicken's Great Expectations, a few illustrated versions of Edgar Alan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination and the entire collection of Beethoven's pianoforte works (sheet music, not CDs).

I also have a collection of chess books, including the bible of chess openings, the so-called "MCO-14" - Modern Chess Openings, Edition 14 by Nick de Firmian, the three-time US chess champion. I don't play much chess these days, but that doesn't stop me from perusing the chess section whenever I visit any bookstore.

My problem is, I can go into any section of a bookstore and still be able to find something that interests me; I am even interested in books on subjects that don't interest me! For example, I don't play golf, but I have a book on golf too. I am also amazed at my habit of being able to purchase books almost anywhere I go. When I was staying overnight in the backwater town of Tanjung Pinang on Bintan island, I also ended up buying a book--Deru Campur Debu, a slim anthology of poems by Chairil Anwar--from the local stationery store. I had a good time reading that in my cheap hotel that night.

I realized long ago that the only sure way of preventing myself from buying anymore books is to not set foot into a bookstore at all. But that is easier said than done. Last Friday, I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for my friend at KLCC, so I made a mistake of sauntering into the Times bookstore and not surprisingly, I came out five minutes later clutching a hardcover book: The Born-Einstein Letters 1916-1955: Friendship, Politics and Phisics in Uncertain Times, and ninety ringgit poorer.

People tell me that I must be crazy to be spending so much money on books. But I know most men my age squander even more money on women, drinks and golf. At least books are still cheaper compared to vintage cars, Rolex watches or keeping a mistress in Dongguan. And I am not even into first editions or rare books yet. If you have read or watched The Name of the Rose or The Ninth Gate, you will know that some people will even go to the extend of killing for a book...

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